Turning lunch dates into job leads

A common saying in the business world is, “It’s not about your connections, it’s about your connections’ connections.” This proverb rings true in real life. In today’s economic climate, more and more companies are looking to their current employees to find new staff rather than job boards or the hiring department—being on good terms with your coworkers is more important than ever before.

Having friends at work can turn into professional connections. (simplyhired.com)

Having friends at work can turn into professional connections. (simplyhired.com)

Not only does this practice save any hiring team time and money, it also increases the chance of finding a fresh face that’s a good fit. Current employees know what kind of vibe exists at their workplace and can determine if their potential referral has the right personality for the job as well as the qualifying skills.

Studies also show that new hires who have a friend or acquaintance at their new workplace acclimate to the corporate culture more quickly, stick around longer and experience more professional success.

Besides, you never know who your coworkers might know. One person who experienced the benefits of this ‘six degrees’ phenomenon firsthand is Leah McCormack, a Junior Stylist at Wayfair.com.

After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City with a bachelor’s in advertising and marketing and an associate’s in Fashion Merchandising, Leah anticipated starting her career at the bottom of the professional food chain, but wasn’t sure how to break into her preferred industry.

Her big break came when she was talking to a co-worker at her summer job in her hometown. After mentioning how stressful it was trying to land a first job, she learned that her coworker was friends with a buyer at Rue La La, which happened to be Leah’s dream job. Before she knew it, her resume was fast-tracked to the recruiter and she started work within weeks.

This isn’t an uncommon incident; Riju Parakh, an employee at Ernst & Young, found her job because a friend thought she would be a good fit for an open position. The hiring process takes an average of 55 days through a career site. Because of her friend’s recommendation, however, her resume was set apart from thousands of others and she was at her cubicle within three weeks.

Thousands of others have experienced professional success due to current or former coworkers that they built up a friendly relationship with.

Events coordinated strictly for professional networking are not uncommon. Thousands of perfect strangers are willing to talk to young professionals, give them advice or help them land a new job.

So why should the people you see every day be any different? Don’t limit yourself to the cubicles that neighbor yours, though. The receptionist at your office may have more sway with your boss than you think, and executives at your company may seem intimidating, but they have the best connections and the most to teach you.

It may seem overly simple, but by making friends with your coworkers, you are also building bridges that connect you to someone that might be in a position of power one day. After all, large companies fill 27 percent of their positions through employee referrals.

Ninety-one percent of Millennials expect to stay at a job for less than three years. By creating and maintaining these positive relationships over the course of your career, you may come to find that your dream job is only one friendly lunch date away.

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